Episode #334: Yancey Strickler – Using The Power Of Metaphors (This Could Be Our Future)

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Yancey Strickler is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the cofounder and former CEO of Kickstarter and author of This Could Be Our Future: A Manifesto for a More Generous World.

Yancey has been recognized as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People. He’s spoken at the Museum of Modern Art, Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals, Web Summit, and events around the globe. He cofounded the artist resource The Creative Independent and the record label eMusic Selects. Yancey grew up in Clover Hollow, Virginia, and began his career as a music critic in New York City.

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“Hara Hachi Bu: stop eating when you’re 80% full so that you’re still hungry for tomorrow.”

Show Notes:

  • Commonalities of leaders who sustain excellence:
    • Selflessness – “You have to get over yourself first”
    • Have strength to know what’s important
    • Flexible
    • It requires more time living into the minds of other people – “Not necessarily compassion, but ‘what’s going on with them?'”
    • Curiosity – A desire to know more
  • Amazon thinks ‘customer maximization’ – thinking in the best interest of the customer
  • How to get hired for the next management role?
    • Spend 1 hour a day with your current team — Learn from them.  What’s really going on?
    • Be the “go to” person for important objectives
  • What was Day 1 as the CEO of KickStarter like?
    • “I remember the new fancy office… I needed to set proper expectations.”
    • “People need to know how to make decisions”
    • “The weight I felt as a new CEO was very high”
    • The “on-me-ness was so high” – A huge responsibility that was felt
  • The skill of “sandwiching ideas” — Using metaphors to put together different ideas
    • Japanese cuisine
      • “Hara Hachi Bu: stop eating when you’re 80% full so that you’re still hungry for tomorrow.”
        • We shouldn’t overfull ourselves because there is always something to learn tomorrow
  • “My brain is really good at storing and making connections.”
  • “As a CEO/Leader, you need to be able to speak in metaphors to bring more oxygen to the situation…”
  • How can we all do this?
    • Read –> Write it down –> Take notes of something interesting
    • “Metaphors are powerful.”
  • The power of story –> science –> application
  • During his time at KickStarter, they grew from 70 employees to 155 in just a few years… What did Yancey look for in candidates?
    • Selflessness, servant mindset
    • “When they shared accomplishments, did they use ‘we’ or ‘I’?  We like the people who use ‘we'”
    • Mission driven
    • Honest
    • Not afraid to share bad news
    • “Whenever I found myself having to talk myself into something and overlook a red flag, I often found that was a mistake.”
  • Why did he leave KickStarter?
    • “I got tired, it took the energy out of me.  It was my identity for a decade…”
    • Had a rough 360 review (full review of people above, beside, and below him in the organization)
    • “One morning, I got to the door to leave my house, and I could not do it.  I broke down crying to my wife and said, ‘I don’t want to be a CEO today.'”
  • Why writing is so beneficial:
    • Forces clarity of thought
    • “It forces you to accept rejection and just roll.”
  • Why write a manifesto(the book)?
    • “I gave a talk, had it transcribed, put it online, and it went viral.”
  • When deciding to work for himself:
    • “I need to treat myself as if I’m a company.” — How to properly plan and strategize as a solo entrepreneur
    • “I wrote down five options… One of them was writing a book.  I chose that option.”
    • A publisher said to Yancey, “You don’t need to hide. Your book is good enough without all the fancy artwork.”
  • Going against the grain: “I’m challenging the dominant ethos of our time.”
  • Bentoism – A balanced view of what’s in our rational self-interest as inspired by the layout of a Japanese lunchbox.
    • Now me, future me, now us, future us.  The four quadrants…
    • Do you want do this in a small group with Yancey? Email me
  • How Adele did this?
    • She used an algorithm to measure how loyal a fan was.  She used that information to help them get tickets at a decent price instead of the extraordinary prices on the secondary market.
      • This is both emotional and rational.  It’s possible to be done for all of us.
  • Life advice:
    • Yancey originally felt like a failure because he didn’t identify with what the magazine covers were telling him: He didn’t feel the urge to want to crush his competitors.  It’s hard to be aware of the water you swim in…
    • Have awareness… Be curious, read a lot.
    • Have a plan… An idea of where to go.  Understand new values.
  • Use the “Get To Know You Document
  • Why joining The Learning Leader Circle is a good idea

“Whenever I found myself having to talk myself into something and overlook a red flag, I often found that was a mistake.”

More Resources:

More Learning:

Episode 078: Kat Cole – From Hooters Waitress To President of Cinnabon

Episode 216: Jim Collins — How To Go From Good To Great

Episode #300: AJ & Keith Hawk – How To Instill Work Ethic & Curiosity In Your Children

Episode #303:  General Stanley McChrystal – The New Definition Of Leadership

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